Route 66 in 5 days

Ever fancied doing Route 66? Don’t have the time to commit and do the whole thing? I found a way to explore a key section without the investment

Introduction

Everyone knows Route 66. It’s arguably one of the most iconic roads in the world, particularly when it comes to the world of Harley Davidson’s. I’m yet to meet a rider who’s not either done it or want to do it.

For me, it’s always been on my bucket list, and to be honest, it still is! It would be a dream to ride the full 2448 miles across 8 states and 3 time zones, one day! But for now, I found a way to cram in a few top bits in just 5 days. It all started in Texas, the land of big! Literally, everything in Texas is big, from the 72oz steak at Amarillo’s The Big Texan Steak Ranch, to the USA’s second largest canyon, The Palo Duro, to the mega rodeos at Dalla’s Mesquite Arena, and of course their incredible homegrown watermelons. It’s all super-sized – in just the right ways!

So, given some of these snippets and also, the fact Texas lies bang in the middle of Route 66, it seemed like an ideal place to enjoy the open road on a Harley Davidson, the wide highways, incredible scenery, horse trekking, huge steaks, and of course, Route 66.

 

Itinerary

Rental

Red River Harley Davidson in Wichita Falls, hooked me up with a Heritage Sotftail, a bike I swiftly became one with, even with its size! Over 5.5 times my weight! From there it was a cruise north west to Amarillo [230 miles], and from here it’s where it starts to get interesting. Why would you want to get to Amarillo on a Harley I hear you?

Roads

Mixed! You have some large highways to blast along, but you also have incredible winding, twisting, sweeping bends around the canyon. Keep an open eye for wildlife around dusk and dawn – it all seems to gravitate to the road [I somehow managed to run out a snake and take a bird straight into my V-Twin – bird sadly died, but the V-twin lived on].

Accommodation

Easily available if you’re happy with the budget. Being America, there are countless motels along the roads. During my trip [total 3 weeks – 5 on bikes] I didn’t book a single place. The motels are in abundance so simply rock up, wonder in and ask for a room. On the rare occasion, they are fully booked; you’ll find plenty of other options in the area. Life on two wheels makes the freedom of not knowing where you’re staying simply add to the escapism.

A few motels I’ve enjoyed: Motel 6, Premier Inn, Best Western, The Big Texan Steak Ranch, Holiday Inn, Red Roof Inn, Super 8 Motels.

Dinning

Two places I recommend checking out if you’re around Amarillo:

  1. The Big Texan Steak Ranch it’s very Texan. All the staff are glammed up in full cowboy / cow girl attire. Generally just a good fun vibe with a very good steak. And if you’re really hungry how about trying the 72oz steak challenge.

What to eat? Steak and corn with a large cold beer

  1. Mid-Point café – you might have heard of this iconic dinner but either way it’s worth a visit. Pop in and enjoy some of their world-famous home-made pies, I can personally recommend getting at least three types to try [it would be rude not to, right?]. Once you’re successfully full on pie and on tap coffee, you can head over the road for a shot with the Route 66 midpoint sign. A must have shot for anyone on Route 66. Here you’ll be exactly 1139 miles Los Angeles and 1139 miles from Chicago.

Coffee

To stereotype the lot, the coffee is very American. Mostly filter and with unlimited refills. Great for a caffeine kick but nothing on a good European coffee.

Fuel/Gas Availability

Amarillo and the route north from Wichita has plenty of fuel stops, however, if you’re heading to the Palo Duro Canyon be sure to fill up first. We went 300 miles without seeing a station and was literally running on vapours when the heavenly sight of a gas station appeared!

Plan your trip and fill up before you leave town.

 

Scenery

Breathtaking. I can’t give the Palo Duro National Park justice to its true beauty in words, so I’ll let the images do the talking:

 

Highlights

  1. Palo Duro National Park

It’s right on the edge of the second biggest canyon in the USA, the Palo Duro National Park. This is a truly incredible spot. I would recommend both riding down into the middle of the park and having explored, but also ride the full parameter of the canyon – run rise and sunset are particularly stunning for this. The surreal thing is that on approach because it is all below the eye level, you can’t see it until your right-on-top of it.

  1. Horse riding at the Los Cedros Ranch

Seeing the place on a Harley is one thing, but getting on a horse and escaping the tarmac, stepping into the great outdoors, that’s a whole new twist on incredible.  These guys will look after you whether you’re a total novice or an experienced rider.

  1. Cadillac Ranch an instillation of classic Cadillac sticking out of the ground

This place is just West of Amarillo and is certainly worth a wonder too. You can get spray paint there as well. There isn’t much there, so it’s more of a quick 15-minute stop but it’s pretty epic seeing a massive row of cars sticking out the ground.

 

Tips From Experience

  • Take lots of sunscreens
  • Helmets are not a legal requirement in Texas, however, remember your safety is most important – I wore a helmet
  • Keep a hawk eye for animals on the road around the canyon at dawn and dusk
  • Also watch for sand and grit on the road – lethal for 2 wheels
  • It’s roasting during the day but the temperature drops off at night so ensure you’ve got warmer riding clothes
  • Make sure you try the steak – PS eating steak 19 of 21 days it totally acceptable